North Korea History - In this section we briefly describe the history line of the DPRK and the Korean peninsula. Please bear in mind that different viewpoints may exist on specific historical issues and that these should be respected when in the DPRK. We suggest you avoid talking about sensitive issues related to politics and North Korea history that may upset your tour guides.
Please click on our FAQs section for more information on advice about when travelling to North Korea.
Please click on the period of Korean history that you are interested in for more details:
|Prehistory - evidence proves that human life existed on the Korean peninsula from an early age.|
|Earliest States - information on the first states on the Korean peninsula. Tangun tomb from the Kojoson dynasty (in North Korea).|
The Three Kingdoms Period (37 BC - 676 AD) - Koguryo (Goguryeo), Paekje (Baekje) and Silla are known as the Three Kingdoms. Their power and status on the peninsula varied through the years.
|Unified Three Kingdoms (676 - 936) - This period is also referred to as Unified Silla. The Kingdom of Silla, with help from the Chinese Tang Dynasty's forces managed to take over the other two kingdoms and was then forced to fight the Chinese who had initially helped them.|
|Koryo (Goryeo) 936 - 1392 - A strong centralised kingdom. It became widely known abroad and the name "Korea" comes from it. Buddhism spread around Koryo.|
Choson (Joseon) Dynasty (1392-1910) - After a coup d'etat led by General Yi Seonggye (later called King Taejo) who had originally been sent to fight against the Chinese Ming Dysnasty, a new dynsaty was created. Later conflicts with Japan, France and the US were to arise.
|Japanese Colony (1910-1945) - 5 years after Russia lost the Russo-Japanese War in 1905 Korea became a Japanese colony. Conditions were brutal for Koreans, with slavery, famine and attempts of the Japanese to completely erase Korean culture.|
|Liberation of Korea (1945) - With the end of the Second World War Korea was finally freed from the Japanese. Korean guerrilla forces moving across the Chinese-Korean border, as well as international help managed to achieve this.|
The Korean War (1950-1953) - a devastating tragedy that cost the lives of over 3 million people. The peninsula remained divided at the 38th parallel the way it had been divided by the Soviets and US after the Second World War.
|War Aftermath & following years - Both North Korea and South Korea were destroyed by the war and in the years following they were forced to make extraordinary efforts to recover from it. This section covers the decades following the Korean War, focusing more on North Korea's history including the personality cult of Kim Il Sung that was developed and exists today.|
|1980s-1990s - Two decades in which the DPRK saw how two of its main allies changed their policies towards North Korea, Kim Il Sung passed away and Kim Jong Il came to power. The country also saw itself in what is called "The Arduous March."|
|North Korea History: 2000s - Decade in which for the first time ever presidents of South Korea visited North Korea.|